The Criterion Collection
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Jean-Luc Godard's subversive foray into commercial filmmaking is a star-studded Cinemascope epic. Contempt (Le M pris) stars Michel Piccoli as a screenwriter torn between the demands of a proud European director (played by legendary director Fritz Lang), a crude and arrogant American producer (Jack Palance), and his disillusioned wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot) as he attempts to doctor the script for a new film version of The Odyssey.
With his aptly titled Contempt, Jean-Luc Godard embraced the widescreen splendor of Hollywood while thumbing his nose at Hollywood itself. A rebel with a cause, Godard pursues an iconoclast's agenda, using the Franscope format (expertly controlled by cinematographer Raoul Coutard) to undermine the grandeur of widescreen melodramas. The story ostensibly concerns an innovative production of Homer's Odyssey and the struggle of a respected screenwriter (Michel Piccoli) to please a pugnacious producer (Jack Palance), a veteran director (Fritz Lang, essentially playing himself), and a petulant wife (Brigitte Bardot) who's grown tired of their turbulent relationship. It's all pretense, however, for Godard's mischievous (and yes, contemptuous) deconstruction of commercial Hollywood filmmaking, potently infused with film-buff in-jokes, astute observations about love, stardom, and artistry, and enough glossy style to suggest that Godard had mastered the craft he so willfully rejects. Contempt is one of his most accessibly fascinating films. --Jeff Shannon
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It seems that this Blu-ray is issued by StudioCanal and came with a slipcase; however, the copy I received just came in a simple Blu-ray case. This Blu-ray disc is regions A/B and have multiple languages subtitles selection.
His lead is played by Michael Piccoli, who like Fellini's Mastorianni is the torn screenwriter, torn in this case in three directions- one by a commercial producer (Jack Palance) who wants the production to be epic but has many reservations about the craft; another by a legendary director (all the more so since Lang is playing himself) who is only interested in the art of it, like when he views slides and shots of old Greek statues and such, and Palance chucks the film around the room; the last by his wife, played by the beautiful (if slightly depressing) Bridget Bardot who has as many or more inner demons as her husband. Their conversation, which lasts a longish if hypnotic half an hour, gives Bardot her spotlight in the picture.
Like an Odyssey of sorts the film becomes, lending itself to Godard's focus on the aspect of the idea of characters breaking down, and how the atmosphere he creates is one that can understandably make anyone crack. Contempt isn't a milestone for the filmmaker, but it's watchable as a second or third film to introduce the common viewer to Godard, and for film buffs it provides a wide, captivating glimpse of the film world for film buffs.
My only complaint with the movie is that it's kinda glum. The sprightliness only creeps in at the edges.